Sunday afternoon baking sure makes the day go by quickly (and tulips make the day more lovely!) :)
I was really excited when Sarah picked dates for this week's secret ingredient. I'm a big fan of dates. Especially dates filled with peanut butter. You've probably seen them pop up on my blog more than a couple of times. I also like dates paired with bananas, hence my morning pancakes. :) For my actual BSI submission I wanted to find a way to pair two of my favorite ingredients, PB and dates, into a baked good. I first thought of peanut butter date cookies, but after a quick internet search discovered that Tina had already made a similar recipe. I really try to be original for BSI, coming up with my own idea and own recipe, so I crossed the PB date cookies off the list of possibilities. That led me to the next idea on the list, peanut butter date blondies.
I'm relatively new to the world of blondie baking, in fact I've only made blondies two other times and both were inspired by VeggieGirlrecipes. I spent the early afternoon researching blondie recipes to be sure that I had the right ratios of flour, fat and liquid to get the right consistency.
I used natural sweeteners (turbinado sugar and the dates, of course) and whole wheat pastry flour to make the recipe a bit healthier than some of the others I was looking at. But don't let that fool you, they still aren't light in calories. Next time I'll experiment with replacing some of the butter with yogurt, and maybe add in some applesauce. Also, eliminate the egg yolks? But overall, I am very happy with the result. The rest of the batch is going to my co-workers and my hubb's co-workers. Unhealthiness problem solved. :)
The sweetness of the dates complements the saltiness of the peanuts perfectly. I thought about adding semisweet chocolate chips to the mix, even had them portioned out and ready to go in the mixer, but decided at the last moment that they might overpower the dates so I left them out. I'm so glad I did. The dates are subtle and delicious and would have been lost with the addition of chocolate.
My inspiration came from here and here. Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Date Blondies
makes (16) 2" square blondies
[250 calories, 12g fat, 4.8g sat. fat, 31.6g carbs, 2.7g fiber, 5.3g protein]
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup natural, crunchy, unsalted peanut butter
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
8 medjool dates, chopped
Preheat oven to 350*. Spray 8x8 square baking dish with oil.
In stand mixer, blend butter and peanut butter until creamy. Add sugar and blend until combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla extract.
In separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
Add dry ingredients to mixer and blend until just combined.
Fold in peanuts and dates.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread, smoothing top.
Bake for 30-32 minutes, until edges of blondies are beginning to brown. Cool in pan on rack. Let cook completely before cutting.
Sunday mornings usually involve a late and elaborate breakfast for my hubb and I. I woke up on this particular Sunday thinking about dates, knowing I had a BSI recipe to come up with. I was also thinking about pancakes, because many Sunday mornings also involve pancakes in our house. I saw this recipe in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago and had planned on making it for our company last weekend but we wound up having brunch out instead. This morning seemed as good a morning as any to try it out, especially since I had ricotta in the fridge that was going to go bad in the next day or two.
We usually use a Dr. Oetker pancake mix from Whole Foods and add assorted dried fruits, nuts and chocolate to spice them up. But making pancakes from scratch is really not difficult or time consuming, and I was intrigued by the addition of ricotta cheese to this particular recipe. I substituted a few ingredients to healthify the 'cakes a bit, but then we cooked up some bacon to go with them so I think my efforts were canceled out.
I was concerned that the dates would stick together if I added them to the mix, so I just pressed them into the tops of the pancakes with the bananas after I poured the batter onto my griddle.
The pancakes were very light and fluffy in texture, and the pairing of bananas and dates with real maple syrup was fabulous. I just wish we'd eaten them as they came off of the griddle instead of keeping them warm in the oven while my hubb cooked up the bacon. They flattened out just a bit and probably would have had a better consistency had we consumed them immediately. The batch made 15 pancakes so I'll be freezing leftovers for future mornings. Yum.
I don't think this will be my official BSI entry because I've got some other baking planned for this afternoon. This was more of a warm-up. :)
Banana Date Pancakes [adapted from this NY Times article]
makes about 15 small pancakes
1 cup fat free or reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 cup fat free plain yogurt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
zest from 1 lemon
butter or grapeseed oil as needed (i used grapeseed oil)
2 bananas, sliced thinly
5 medjool dates, chopped finely
Blend together the ricotta, yogurt and egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry.
Sift together the baking soda, flour, salt and sugar.
Heat a griddle or nonstick pan on medium low heat.
Add dry ingredients to ricotta/yogurt mixture and blend together, but do not beat.
Add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
Fold in the egg whites, but don't mix completely. You should still be able to distinguish the egg whites in the batter.
Oil or butter hot griddle. Add batter 1 heaping tablespoonful at a time. Press banana slices and dates into tops of pancakes. Cook until golden brown on bottom, 3-5 minutes. Flip, and cook until golden brown on opposite side. Serve immediately with real maple syrup.
Breakfast: 3 banana date pancakes with real maple syrup, 2 slices bacon, 5 fresh strawberries, coffee
[pancakes + syrup = 420 calories, bacon = 100 calories, strawberries = 36 calories]
I hope you all have had a great weekend so far! I had a fabulous time at the shower yesterday. My friend Christine is SO cute. She's due in 2 months...I can't believe it! Here's me with the proud momma-to-be...
And the adorable ice cream cake that I of course had a piece of...along with other bad-for-me food. It was a lot of fun though, and luckily I don't go out of town very often!!!
Thanks for all of your great road food suggestions! I was happy to have my snacks on the way down and to supplement my breakfast Saturday morning, but they didn't do a very good job of deterring me from eating a fast food dinner both Friday and Saturday nights. :( Next time I need to pack sandwiches to take with me, or at least more satisfying meal-type items. Or push harder for Subway stops... :)
And now I'm off to bake up my BSI recipe...I'll be back later with the results!
Its the day before Thanksgiving!!!!! Are you all as excited as I am?!?! With only one work day between me and some amazing smoked turkey, I think its time for a bit of reflection about what we have to be thankful for... Its a bit of a long story, but I promise to get to a point.
Last night I had a great chat with my momma. We’re going to be apart for Thanksgiving this year, which is hard for both of us, so we were chatting about plans, menus, family etc. I was telling her about the blogging community and how impressed I am with all of you that are participating in the Thanksgiving Challenge. My mom and stepdad are big foodies, so they completely understand big grocery bills and mine and Brian’s unwillingness to compromise on the kinds of food that we eat. We don’t want to compromise, but we still feel guilty about how much money we spend. This year, my parents decided to help somebody less fortunate than all of us to have a happy Thanksgiving.
My grandfather is living in a nursing facility near my parents’ home. My mom is so grateful to the nursing staff for everything they have done for him, and she and my stepdad decided that this year they wanted to do something to give back. She talked to the director to find out if there was anybody working at the center that was having a hard time and could maybe use a bit of help this year. The director called her back with the name of an 18 year old woman working in the kitchen at the center for $7.50/hour. The woman’s mother recently had a stroke and was unable to work, and her father had recently lost his job in this economic downturn. At 18 years old, making $7.50/hour, this young woman is the only provider for she, her mother and her father. My mom went to Publix and got a gift certificate large enough to cover everything the young woman would need to provide Thanksgiving dinner to her family. When the director presented the young woman with the gift, she burst into tears and said “Now we can have a Thanksgiving. The only food we have in the house is peanut butter”.
After hearing this story I was reminded again of how generous and thoughtful my mother is and how lucky I am to have her as an influence in my life. It really got me thinking about how we can make small sacrifices in our own lives and make a huge difference in someone else’s. For me, the ultimate show of thanks is to be able to help someone less fortunate than yourself.
Brian and I are scheming about ways to do just that in December, so stay tuned...
On to training:
During my lunch hour yesterday I went to the running shop to talk to my 10-miler training program coach. He is amazing, and took about 45 minutes out of his very busy day to talk with me about the issues I am having with my left foot and right knee. He examined my shoes, took the insoles out of the shoes and examined them, examined the calluses on my feet (ew!) and had me test out several pairs of new shoes. Because my current shoes only have about 150 miles on them and are still in good shape, he decided to have me try some inserts in them to help determine whether or not I needed more or less support in my shoe. He wanted me to go for a test run and come back to the shop on Friday to report in. So, after work Brian and I drove over to UVA campus to go for a run. I love running around campus, its so pretty and well-lit and active, and the terrain is perfect. We did almost 2 miles, and it felt fantastic!!! My foot did hurt a bit and I made a bunch of mental notes to talk to my coach about, but other than the foot everything was great. It was one of those fabulous runs where everything seems to click and you feel smooth and strong and like you could keep going for miles. I loved it. On to food:Dinner: Brian made veggie chili!!! Oh how I love chili.
1 yellow bell pepper
5 celery stalks
1 can cannellini beans
1 can kidney beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
And his special chili seasoning (we make it all at once, and use about 1/2 per pot of chili. the rest is stored in an airtight container in our spice cabinet).
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
We served it over brown rice curly-cue pasta. There are many things in life that make me happy, and curly-cue pasta is definitely one of them.
Dessert: One beautiful medjool date. Yum.
Breakfast Today: Oikos vanilla yogurt with fresh raspberries. This was my first time trying the vanilla, I like that its not too sweet. Honey is still my fave though. I also had a slice of pumpkin cranberry bread with almond butter.
Lunch Today: Trying to make room in the fridge, although this didn’t help too much. I made a salad with broccoli slaw, cucumber, orange bell pepper and the last of my roasted red pepper hummus, about 4 tbsp. I’m also going to heat up some Amy’s Vegetable Soup...I was bummed I didn’t have any bean soups for some protein. :(
Snack Today: Another piece of pumpkin cranberry bread with almond butter. I’m pleased to announce that this bread is still wonderfully moist and yummy 4 days later!
Turkey Day Peek!!!
I braved Whole Foods yesterday on my lunch hour (or lunch 2.5 hours as it wound up being...) to pick up the fresh ingredients we need for our meal. On the menu...Roasted Veggies!!! I love roasted veggies, can't get enough of them. This is always the dish that Brian and I offer to make at holidays because it ensures that there will be plenty of veggies on our plates. This year we will have
I can't wait. What are you all making for Thanksgiving this year?